On September 24, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, testified before the Texas Joint Interim Committee to Study the Public School Finance System on how digital learning and the effective use of technology can play a part in helping drive better learning for all students in Texas, regardless of their geography or socioeconomic status.
In his testimony, Wise recognized Texas’s leadership in technology use to narrow achievement gaps. Specifically, he praised the Klein Independent School District’s innovative use of laptops and professional development for their teachers in improving the educational opportunities and quality of learning for its students. (For video demonstrating Klein’s use of technology in the classroom, visit http://youtu.be/ZNmbYAlPEcs.) In addition, Wise cited the Floydada Independent School District’s Technology Immersion Pilot program, through which its middle and high schools have experienced double-digit gains in all core subject areas.
While acknowledging the funding challenges that Texas faces because of declining local, state, and federal revenues and tight budgets, Wise said that the state is being challenged to raise student performance for more and more children. “I had to balance budgets as a governor and it was never easy,” Wise stated. “It is going to require innovative thinking to allocate resources in a way that makes state dollars more productive and effective.”
Wise recommended that the Joint Interim Committee consider how digital learning can be part of the solution. Incorporating digital learning includes making sure every student has access to an internet-enabled device, but he warned, “Don’t just lay a netbook on top of a textbook.” Ensuring teachers are trained and have opportunities for professional development is a necessary component for success.
Wise also discussed what he calls the “three Ts”—teachers, technology, and time—that are essential to developing a comprehensive digital learning strategy and rethinking education. “Teachers have a critical role to play as the nation continues to progress from yesterday’s learning environments to those that are more tailored, flexible, robust, and challenging. At the same time, technology can be a ‘force-multiplier’ for teachers, permitting them to reach more students than ever before,” Wise said. “Only when the three Ts are used together can schools be expected to accelerate improvement.”
Read Gov. Wise’s prepared testimony here